07/24/2015 2:25PM

Hall of Fame: Xtra Heat earned her carrots

Barbara D. Livingston
Champion Xtra Heat, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month, is now a broodmare in Versailles, Ky.

“She still gets plenty of visitors to the farm. She loves her carrots,” Woodford Farm general manager Matt Lyons says of champion Xtra Heat, now a broodmare at the Versailles, Ky., farm. “Every time she hears the bag rustle, she knows her carrots are coming.”

Xtra Heat has earned those carrots many times over. The bargain-basement purchase became a Grade 1-winning multimillionaire, an Eclipse Award winner, and now a Hall of Famer. The Dixieland Heat mare will take her place in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in an induction ceremony Aug. 7 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Now 17, Xtra Heat is a stakes producer whose class continues to show in her daily conduct.

“She’s a quite kind enough mare to be around most of the time,” Lyons said. “When she’s out there in the group, she doesn’t stick out or anything as being [a troublemaker]. She’s a pretty mild mare to be around. She’s not aggressive at all for a filly that was so dominant on the racetrack. She’s a good mother to her babies.”

Xtra Heat was purchased for just $5,000 by John Salzman Sr. out of the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale. Trained by Salzman for fellow co-owners Ken Taylor and Harry Deitchman, she won her debut in a $25,000 maiden claimer and promptly graduated to stakes company, winning seven of her remaining eight starts that year, including the Grade 2 Astarita Stakes at Belmont Park.

Xtra Heat was named champion 3-year-old filly in 2001. That year, Xtra Heat won 9 of 13 starts and didn’t miss the board, with her biggest victory coming in the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes at Belmont. She also won the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes at Keene-land, Grade 3 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct, and Grade 3 Endine Stakes at Delaware Park, and was second in the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga. That fall, she finished second to Squirtle Squirt in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, beaten just a half-length after leading into the stretch, then turned in another creditable effort against males with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.

Xtra Heat made an ambitious trip to Dubai the following winter, finishing third in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen. She turned in another productive season at four, winning the Barbara Fritchie, Genuine Risk, and Vagrancy handicaps, all Grade 2 events; taking the Grade 3 Phoenix Breeders’ Cup Stakes; and adding another edition of the Endine. 

That fall, Xtra Heat was entered in the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky selected fall mixed sale and failed to meet her reserve with a final bid of $1.7 million. She was subsequently sold privately to ClassicStar Stable and, with Salzman continuing to train, won both her starts in 2003, including another edition of the Fritchie. In all, she won 25 stakes races and placed in seven others, bankrolling more than $2.3 million.

In the wake of numerous lawsuits, ClassicStar filed for bankruptcy protection in 2007. Shortly prior, John Sykes had purchased two farms and several mares – including Xtra Heat – from the operation. Sykes, ClassicStar managing partner Tony Ferguson, and their wives owned the property that became Woodford Thoroughbreds in Kentucky, with Ferguson later exiting the partnership.

Knowing nothing of that turmoil, Xtra Heat has fashioned a successful broodmare career, with five winners – including three stakes horses – from nine starters. Her first foal, Southwestern Heat (by Gone West) captured the Sonny Hine Stakes and placed in four other stakes, including a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Hirsch Jacob Stakes. Elusive Heat (Elusive Quality) won the Geyser Spring Stakes and was second in the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes, and another son, X Rated Cat (Storm Cat) was stakes-placed.

Lyons said Xtra Heat has a yearling filly by Congrats, but lost her foal this year. She is in foal to Congrats again.

Xtra Heat’s success is also continuing into a second generation. Southwestern Heat stands at A&A Ranch in New Mexico, and he was that state’s leading freshman sire of 2014. Among his offspring is the stakes winner Southern Fire. X Rated Cat stands in Texas. Xtra Heat’s daughter Heat Exposure (Street Cry) resides alongside her dam in the Woodford broodmare band and is the dam of Heat Road (Bellamy Road), a promising juvenile colt.

“A client of ours, a friend of ours, owns him, and I think they’ve got high hopes for him,” Lyons said.